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From ISU to the FBI

Author: Paula Van Brocklin

Alumni Kate Felsl work for the FBI.
Kate Felsl (’23 criminal justice, business management) launched her FBI career following graduation from Iowa State.

Working for the FBI was always in the back of Kate Felsl’s mind, but she never thought it could become a reality. Or could it?

As Felsl (’23 criminal justice, business management) researched potential career opportunities during her senior year at Iowa State, she discovered the FBI’s Collegiate Hiring Initiative, a competitive application process. She took a chance and applied. Felsl was ecstatic to be offered an operational support technician (OST) position with the FBI’s Chicago Field Office.

“Even though I didn’t originally plan to be in the FBI until my final semester at Iowa State, I think I was most definitely prepared for my current job and the real world,” Felsl said.

As an OST, Felsl is responsible for analyzing and visualizing data, performing database searches, maintaining case documents, and supporting surveillance activities.

“OSTs are responsible for managing and optimizing each squad’s operations and those responsibilities can vary depending on the type of threat a squad is investigating, which ranges from terrorism, to violent crime, public corruption, and counterintelligence, just to name a few,” Felsl said.

Felsl’s workdays vary depending on the squads’ immediate needs. Typically, she works at her computer gathering intelligence and sharing information with colleagues across field offices.

“My role offers me the opportunity to see a lot of different positions at the FBI,” Felsl said. “I’m also able to gain specialized training that will hopefully help me as I prepare to become a Special Agent.”

Felsl said most FBI positions require advanced training following college. She participated in specialized training for her OST position at the FBI headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, and continues to receive additional instruction as her role evolves.

Well prepared

A self-proclaimed crime junkie, Felsl knew a criminal justice major – and Iowa State – suited her perfectly.

“I was informed that Iowa State had a fantastic criminal justice program so that was a great influence on my choice,” she said. “I have always had a passion for investigations and was looking to help people that are victims of a crime.”

In her criminal justice classes, Felsl enjoyed the opportunity to select research topics that interested her. She was especially fond of classes with Professor Matt DeLisi. After she took one class with him, she enrolled in several more.

“My favorite class of his came my final year of school, CJ 484, the criminal justice studies course on homicide. Dr. DeLisi made this 8:50 a.m. course so gripping that I don’t think I ever missed a class,” Felsl said. “I learned more information about serial killers than I ever thought. Dr. DeLisi has such a great sense of humor and makes class fun with his own experiences and lessons. He is one person I have always looked up to during my time at Iowa State and in my career.”

Career advice

For students hoping to follow Felsl’s career path, she has some advice.

“My advice is to look [for jobs] early and look often. In the criminal justice system, everything is changing almost daily. Take the classes you enjoy. You will get out what you put into them. If any students are considering a position at the FBI, I’d recommend taking a career quiz or reviewing the open positions on, which shows everything from an entry-level position to a senior executive across the country, and in some instances, the world.”